Death of the Internet, Film at 11

Aaron C. de Bruyn aaron at
Tue Oct 25 02:51:15 UTC 2016

On Sun, Oct 23, 2016 at 11:23 PM, Richard Holbo <holbor at> wrote:
> That said... getting end users to actually fix the broken routers etc. etc.
> is NOT easy.    Very often we'll notify customers, they will _take their
> stuff to the local computer repair guy_ ... or office depo.... and they
> will run whatever auto scan they have and say it's all fine.  Customer puts
> it back in, it's still broke, and they call customer support and want us to
> pay for the trip because _their_ expert says it's fine...

Totally accurate.  I have knowledge of a company in my area that does
this.  They install tons of 'home security' and 'business security'
devices on the cheap.  The regular course of action is to plug the
device directly into the back of the ISP router and let uPNP handle
everything because the installer knows *nothing* about networking, IP
addresses, firewalls, routers, etc... The installer also part-times as
a home repair tech, and the procedure for any suspected infection is:

1. Plug the infected computer into the business network
2. Boot it up
3. Install AVG Free and run a scan
4. Install Windows Updates
5. Return the computer with a $85 invoice.
6. When the machine comes back a few weeks later, it's obviously not
because she failed to remove the virus, it's because the user got a
*new* virus.
7. GOTO 1
8. The loop repeats a few times until the customer gets frustrated,
then their machine is wiped and reinstalled.

I think the only way out of this is for some organization to step up
and start issuing competency certificates (Not CompTIA!) that show the
tech has demonstrated a particular level of competence to handle IT.
Maybe like the Michelin Star system or ASE certs for mechanics.
1-star for people that might be able to plug in power and ethernet,
and on the other end a 5-star--where you'd trust them to work on your
grandmother's pace-maker while it is in production.

Re-test every 2-3 years.

Maybe even a group modeled after a lot of 'open governance' projects
that you see in open source today.  Heck 'NANOG Certified Technician'
*does* have a peculiar ring to it...

Then have a huge marketing campaign to let home and small business to
go to the website to find a local *qualified* technician.

The only down-side is that it's ridiculously difficult to test for
certain engineering qualities.  Not trying to be rude here, but I'm
sure lots of people on this list have run into the two types of techs
out there:

#1 is there for the paycheck.  They know how to install Windows
Updates and run a virus scan.  They probably know one OS (usually
Windows) well enough.  If they click the mouse and reboot long enough
they can get 2 or more computers to talk together. They show zero
signs of improvement or change unless it affects their paycheck.

#2 is there for the love and curiosity of learning, creating, and
exploring.  They are constantly learning new stuff, exploring,
researching, and tinkering at home because the love figuring out How
Stuff Works.

(I've found the second type of tech become the best engineers.)

The first type is what you run in to when it comes to all these crappy
device installs--old vulnerable router, webcams with default password
and uPNP forwards from the internet, and infected desktop machines.
10 years ago it was perfectly fine to install AVG and Windows Updates,
but because they haven't kept up, they don't realize that doesn't cut
it now-a-days.  They probably don't know what firmware is, let alone
that some of these devices can/should be upgraded.  (I caught one
installing a DVR based on Windows XP last week.  I said "Isn't XP end
of life?"  "No, I just bought it last week."  *facepalm*)

Give the customer a reliable way to weed out the dead-wood and get a
*good* technician, and most of them will gladly pay more.  Or they
will eventually after having no end of trouble with the first kind of

Sorry for the long rant, but it's either industry self-regulation or
government regulation.  Something will have to change.


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